LETTER xx BAKHTIAEI RELIGION 101
tion of certain formulas in Arabic, which very few if any
of these people understand.1
As to the great matter of their religion, on which I
have taken infinite trouble to gain information, I can
come to no satisfactory conclusion. I think that they
have very little, and that what they have consists in a
fusion of some of the tenets of Islam with a few relics
of a nature worship, not less rude than that of the Ainos
of Tezo and other aboriginal tribes.
They are Shiahs, that is, they hate the Sunnis, and
though the belief in Persia that they compel any one
entering their country to swear eternal hatred to Omar is
not absolutely correct, this hate is an essential part of
their religion. They hold the unity of God, and that
Mohammed was His prophet; but practically, though they
are not AJi Ilahis, they place Ali on as high a pedestal as
Mohammed. They are utterly lax in observing the precepts
of the Koran, even prayer at the canonical hours is very
rarely practised, and then chiefly by Seyyids and Hadjis.
It has been said that the women are devout, but I think
that this is a mistake. Many of them have said to me,
" Women have no religion, for women won't live again."
Those of the Khans who can read, and who have
made pilgrimages to Mecca, such as the Hadji Ilkhani,
Khaja Taimur, and Mirab Khan, observe the times of
prayer and read the Koran, and when they are so en-
gaged they allow of no interruption, but these are
Pilgrimages and visits to imamzadas are lightly
undertaken, either for the accumulation of merit, or to
wash away the few misdeeds which they regard as sin, or
in the hope of gaining an advantage over an enemy.
They regard certain stones, trees, hill-tops, and springs
as " sacred," but it is difficult to define the very vague
1 See Appendix A.